Australian Journal of Primary Health Australian Journal of Primary Health Society
The issues influencing community health services and primary health care
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Rural and regional community health service boards: perceptions of community health – a Delphi study

Diana Guzys A C , Guinever Threlkeld B , Virginia Dickson-Swift A and Amanda Kenny A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A La Trobe Rural Health School, Bendigo, La Trobe University, PO Box 199, Bendigo, Vic. 3552, Australia.

B La Trobe Rural Health School Albury–Wodonga, La Trobe University, PO Box 821, Wodonga, Vic. 3689, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: d.guzys@latrobe.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 23(6) 543-548 https://doi.org/10.1071/PY16123
Submitted: 29 September 2016  Accepted: 6 December 2016   Published: 8 February 2017

Abstract

Much has been written about the composition of health service boards and the importance of recruiting people with skills appropriate for effective and accountable governance of health services. Governance training aims to educate directors on their governance responsibilities; however, the way in which these responsibilities are discharged is informed by board members’ understanding of health within their communities. The aim of this study was to identify how those engaged in determining the strategic direction of local regional or rural community health services in Victoria, Australia, perceived the health and health improvement needs of their community. The Delphi technique was employed to facilitate communication between participants from difference geographic locations. The findings of the study highlight the different ways that participants view the health of their community. Participants prioritised indicators of community health that do not align with standard measures used by government to plan for, fund or report on health. Devolved governance of healthcare services aims to improve local healthcare responsiveness. Yet, if not accompanied with the redistribution of resources and power, policy claimed to promote localised decision-making is simply tokenistic.

Additional keywords: governance, health policy reform, social health.


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